About Us

My photo
Lovin life! No matter where we are or what we're doing.

Friday, July 22, 2011


"It's not what you know, it's who you know," could never have been more true than it is right now. I feel like an alien in a foreign land. We have been in Austin for about 2 months now. I have probably been actively looking for a job for 6 weeks. I haven't had one interview. Without an inside connection or at least a familiar resume, I feel like I'm swimming upstream with one arm tied behind my back. I've never been a strong swimmer.

I can only think of two times in my life I was hired "cold," without knowing someone who got my foot in the door. Now, when I need a job more than ever, I don't know enough people to find one. Thankfully, FedEx has been giving Frank decent hours, but every 3 weeks there seems to be a bad week for hours. This has been one of those weeks.

Honestly, I'm feeling discouraged. I don't want this blog to be a downer, but I also don't want to hide the truth from y'all either. I need a job desperately and Frank needs more hours. There are two full time routes coming up in August that he will bid for. We appreciate your prayers. I also appreciate your hints, tips & leads. It's been a while since I had to look for a job. With so many people looking for work the job market has become more competitive and I've never been one for much competition.

Much Love,
Alita & Frank

Monday, July 18, 2011

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Ham Steak with broccoli & Yam fries (I thought this was a sweet potato, but I was mistaken... still very yummy roasted with some olive oil, s & p and paprika!)

This was my first attempt at chicken fried steak. I served it with egg noodles and green beans. Frank said he preferred the lightness of the noodles compared to traditional mashed potatoes.

He really like it! :-)

French dips with a packed veggie salad... yummo!

And finally, we just had this last night... A salad every man would dream of. Steak, potatoes & bacon over a bed of red leaf lettuce with homemade blue cheese dressing. To. Die. For. (Recipe is from Real Simple Magazine, August 2011)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alita's Kitchen

Apparently the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach but I won Frank’s heart a long time before I ever cooked for him. Still, it’s good to know that I could have used my cooking skills as a back up plan!

One of the reasons I couldn’t wait to get married was to start planning menus and meals and cook for my husband (I have never been known for being politically correct… no time to start now!). I love cooking. It relaxes me, especially when I’ve planned ahead and know what I’m making that night. I love trying new recipes. I love the look on my husband’s face when he takes that first bite and looks up at me. I do think he is an easy man to please but I trust if it wasn’t good he wouldn’t look at me that way. So far, 7 ½ weeks into our marriage, he says I haven’t made a dish that disappointed him yet.

What am I cooking? (I knew I should have taken photos!) Here are some recipes that worked wonders for our hungry stomachs these last couple months! My favorite cook book so far is “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook Bridal Edition.” My sister in law, Yvette, gave it to me before we were married and it has awesome recipes. It also has a lot of good cooking and baking basics and tips. If you aren’t a cook, this is a good book to use as it is simple and helpful!

Pecan Crusted Fish Fillets (Crocker, p.314)
We had a two pound bag of pecan halves left over from our wedding so we’ve been coming up with some creative ways to use them. This recipe is one of the best by far!

1 cup finely chopped pecans (not ground)
¼ cup dry bread crumbs (I used a slice of potato bread)
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 pound sole, orange roughy, walleye pike or other delicate fish fillets, about ½ inch thick (I used tilapia)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
Lemon wedges

1. Mix pecans, bread crumbs and lemon peel in shallow bowl. Beat egg and milk with wire whisk or fork in another shallow bowl.
2. Cut fish into 4 serving pieces. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Coat fish with egg mixture then coat well with pecan mixture, pressing slightly into fish.
3. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add fish. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 6 to 10 minutes, turning once carefully with 2 pancake turners, until fish flakes easily with fork and is brown. Serve with lemon wedges.

I served this with cilantro lime rice: 1 cup rice cooked in rice cooker, mixed with the juices of 1 lemon (the one I grated the zest off of for the fish) and 2 small limes, and about 1 cup of finely chopped cilantro. I also drizzled some asparagus with olive oil and grated garlic and pan fried it for about 5 minutes until it was heated through and slightly browned.

Indonesian Peanut Chicken (Crocker, p. 288)
This is a simple dish with a delicious Asian flavor, combining many of my favorite ingredients. Frank LOVED it! (It’s even better the next day.)

3-3 ½ pound cut-up broiler-fryer chicken
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped (½ cup)
1/3 cup peanut butter
¼ cup chili sauce
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 cup water
¼ cup chopped salted peanuts (I used dry roasted.)
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper

I also served it with extra ground peanuts, chopped lime and chopped cilantro.

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet or 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook chick in oil about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides. Cover and cook over low heat about 20 minutes or until juice is not longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Remove chicken from skillet with tongs.
3. Drain all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet, heat over medium heat. Cook onion in drippings, stirring occasionally, until tender; reduce heat. Stir in peanut butter, chili sauce and cayenne pepper. Gradually stir in water, stirring constantly, until peanut butter is melted.
4. Add chicken. Spoon sauce over chicken. Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 5 minutes, spooning sauce frequently over chicken, until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with peanuts and bell pepper. (OR: Make rice or noodles (I used whole wheat egg noodles). Cover bottom of serving dish with rice or noodles. Arrange chicken on top of rice or noodles. Pour peanut sauce over chicken, garnish with red peppers and peanuts and serve. I didn’t do the extra step of boiling the sauce with the chicken in it and it still turned out really well!)

Another wonderful wedding present was “Taste of Home’s Complete guide to Baking.” I am more attracted to cooking than baking, but this book is a dream of beautiful photos and delicious, easy recipes. It even has some savory baking dishes that I can’t wait to try. In the mean time, I’ve discovered a Southern must have:

Pecan Squares (Taste of Home, p. 69)
I have actually halved this recipe both times I’ve made it and it still serves plenty!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 ½ cups corn syrup
1 ½ cups sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ½ cups chopped pecans

1. In a large mixing bow, combine the flour, sugar, butter and salt until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (I used a pastry cutter to do this.) Press firmly and evenly into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
2. For filling, combine the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla in a bowl. Stir in the pecans. Spread evenly over hot crust. Bake 25-30 minutes longer or until set. Cook on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Yield: 4 dozen.

We have a propane oven, so I only need to bake the crust about 15 minutes, especially a half size. The first time I made these I over-cooked them a bit because they still look soupy in the middle after 30 minutes. Take them out anyway. They will firm up as they cool down. Enjoy a taste of the south!

So what’s on the menu next week?

African Stew & Greens with Rice

Ham with Sweet Potato Fries & steamed broccoli

Lasagna with green salad

Chef Salads

Round Steak Stir Fry & Brown Rice

Loaded Baked Potatoes with green beans

For recipes, email me: alita.batham@gmail.com!